NEWS14 March 2023

Market research industry called on to use ‘superpower’ to help clients

Cost of Living Insight Alchemy News Trends UK

The market research industry should display its ‘superpower’ of insight to help navigate brands through the current choppy economic climate, Claer Barrett, consumer editor at the Financial Times, has told the MRS Insight Alchemy conference.

Claer Barrett

In the keynote debate, Barrett (pictured) said the market research industry should not “be fearful” about the future despite a bleak economic outlook.

She said “I think there are going to be tough times ahead” and that clients “are going to have to fight harder to retain [market] share”.

But Barrett said there was an opportunity for the research industry to showcase their insights to help brands show why they are better than rivals.

“It is providing that insight that is your superpower as market researchers,” she added, urging the industry to “prove your worth to clients”.

Barrett shone a light on an expected prolonged tough economic climate in the UK. “Ultimately we will be dealing with higher inflation for longer than we thought”, she said, adding that this would be “quite painful” for governments, businesses and consumers.

But she added “there are some brighter spots” on the horizon to look forward to, citing falling gas and energy prices, which will have a positive economic impact on the economy.

Meanwhile, Kelly Beaver, chief executive at Ipsos UK, called on brands not to repeat mistakes they made during previous crises.

Beaver said: “Often we see our clients in times where there is more economic uncertainty make a few quite common errors. 

“One, they become internally focused and that is not what you want to be doing in a time of crisis you want to be focused on your consumer, or your citizen or your audience. 

“And the second is they focus heavily on cost reduction programmes at the expense of being able to innovate and plan for the future. That again is a major error.”

Beaver said it was the role of the market research industry to help clients continue to innovate and see the “wood through the trees”.

Paul Twite, manning director, Europe, Middle East and Africa at Toluna and Harris Interactive, said that brands’ focus on ESG (environmental, scoial, governance) was diminishing due to consumer restraint in a difficult economy.

Twite said there had been a “slight drop” in attitudes towards environmental issues and that “you are definitely going to see a change in attitude to ESG because of the economy”.

Also on the panel, Tamara Rogers, chief marketing officer, Haleon, stressed the important role the market research industry can play today.

“Having somebody who can shine a light on truth” and “digging deeper” and “truly understanding” human behaviour was crucial, Rogers said.